Paper accepted at ACSAC 2020

30 October 2020

The paper "Probabilistic Naming of Functions in Stripped Binaries" will appear at ACSAC 2020, which will be held as a fully virtual event.


Debugging symbols in binary executables carry the names of functions and global variables. When present, they greatly simplify the process of reverse engineering, but they are almost always removed (stripped) for deployment. We present the design and implementation of punstrip, a tool which combines a probabilistic fingerprint of binary code based on high-level features with a probabilistic graphical model to learn the relationship between function names and program structure. As there are many naming conventions and developer styles, functions from different applications do not necessarily have the exact same name, even if they implement the exact same functionality. We therefore evaluate punstrip across three levels of name matching: exact; an approach based on natural language processing of name components; and using Symbol2Vec, a new embedding of function names based on random walks of function call graphs. We show that our approach is able to recognize functions compiled across different compilers and optimization levels and then demonstrate that punstrip can predict semantically similar function names based on code structure. We evaluate our approach over open source C binaries from the Debian Linux distribution and compare against the state of the art.